Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. Last summer he logged 22,000 miles while blogging about his cross-country road trip for Mother Jones. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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The View From My Windshield: Hallowed Ground

| Fri Aug. 27, 2010 1:35 PM PDT

Wounded Knee, South Dakota (Photo: Tim Murphy)Wounded Knee, South Dakota (Photo: Tim Murphy)

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Where the West Begins (or Doesn't)

| Wed Aug. 25, 2010 12:04 PM PDT

Interior, South Dakota—Ask any 10 sources where the West begins and you'll get 10 different answers: St. Louis tells us it begins at the Arch; Rapid City tells us it's the Black Hills; the writer William Least Heat-Moon says it's the tall-grass prairie of Chase County, Kansas. Someone in the UP once told me that the West begins at the Cumberland Gap. It's like unobtanium.

Except, I think I've actually found it.

Drive west through South Dakota, head south at Wall, and cut through the Badlands, and sooner or later find yourself in Interior, population 77, perched off to the side of the highway like a just-ripened piece of fruit.

Caption Contest Challenge: Evil Nixon

| Wed Aug. 25, 2010 7:28 AM PDT

Rapid City, South Dakota—See that there? That's our 37th president, Richard Milhous Nixon. And while you can't see it in this photo, he's actually sitting right across from a 24-hour Hardee's just off Main Street in southwest South Dakota's largest metropolitan area. 

Since Rapid City fancies itself as the gateway to the Black Hills, its street corners are decorated with statues of all the presidents who didn't make it up onto the side of the big mountain. Calvin Coolidge is there, holding a saddle for some reason. So are Herbert Hoover and John Quincy Adams. It's Mount Rushmore's Island of Misfit Toys.

So what's even going on in this photo? Why is Nixon smiling like that? Why are his hands clasped? What's up with the menacing lizards just below the arm rests? Why is he flashing so much ankle? Did he just put a hit out on McGovern or something? What is the deal?

I have no idea, but maybe you do. Send us your best caption ideas in the comments, or ping me @timothypmurphy, and I'll post the winner later today.

The winner gets...his/her entry posted. Sorry, guys; we're on a budget here.

Profile shot below the jump, in case this one didn't do it for you.

Update: We have winner: "Release the hounds, Smithers," from commenter Eric Dana. I would also have accepted "Bring me the muggle, Nagini."

The View From My Windshield: Heavens to Bessy

| Mon Aug. 23, 2010 10:26 PM PDT

She's Really Friendly: Just don't provoke her (Photo: Tim Murphy).She's Really Friendly: Just don't provoke her (Photo: Tim Murphy).New Salem, North Dakota—North Dakota never gets no respect. Even the friends we stayed with in Fargo came up empty when we asked for suggestions on what to do on our drive through the state. South Dakota at least has Rushmore and the Badlands; North Dakota has two cities(ish) on the Minnesota border, and some nuclear silos, if you're into that kind of thing. Even our road map from the state tourism board was running out of suggestions by the time we got to Bismarck.

But if you want to blame someone for the state's emptiness, don't blame North Dakotablame the United States Senate, which brilliantly decided to split the relatively empty Dakota territory into two relatively empty states for political reasons.

Anyways, to compensate for its lack of destinations, North Dakotans have, I think, informally embarked on an elaborate mission to construct the largest sculpture of every animal found on the northern plains. Before we found "New Salem Sue," the world's largest Holstein cow at 38x50 feet, we passed signs for, among others, the world's largest sandhill crane, and the world's largest turtle. It's like Noah's Ark on HGH. And while I'm not suggesting any sort of cause-and-effect, I should also note that North Dakota's the last great place in America to find a job. So it's got that going for it.

A Sense of Where We Are: Westward Expansion

| Mon Aug. 23, 2010 2:45 AM PDT


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